First, allow me to say that the term “lawyer up” makes me insane. It was dreamt up by some Hollywood Law and Order writers to give the good guy cop characters another opportunity to sneer at someone. The writers use the term to drive the conflict up, to increase the drama, because if there isn’t conflict, there isn’t drama and there aren’t ratings and they lose their job.
Now, this sinister term has worked its way into the American lexicon. And not in a nice way. The implication is that a bad guy is using a lawyer to hide behind or to abuse a good guy. Nothing is further from the truth.
Honest hard-working citizens need lawyers when they are involved in a legal situation which is over their heads and just about every legal situation will be over their heads. Why? Because American jurisprudence evolved out of British jurisprudence and that means about eight hundred years of developing law. Law is constantly changing. The United States Congress changes it. The Alaska state legislature changes it. The Courts interpret it. Are you keeping up on the changes to the law?
Do you know how to fix your automatic transmission, file your own taxes, do your own dental or medical work? Maybe one or two of those things but not all. So you go to a professional who knows what they’re doing.
Are you going to take legal advise from a nurse who is hired by the insurance company or some other person who has never seen the inside of a court room? Or do you want someone standing beside you who knows procedure, law, what your rights are and how to deal with whatever happens next.
One of the great things about this country is citizen’s access to the courts. And when you’re over your head in a legal situation: a divorce, criminal charges, personal injury claim, workers compensation injury, property dispute, consumer issues, landlord-tenant etc, you are entitled to have legal representation of your choice. Someone who is licensed by the Bar Association. Someone who is knowledgeable and experienced. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for your attorney, sometimes the attorney will take your case on a contingency fee basis.
Up to you, of course. And if you decide to handle your legal matter by yourself or with the help of an uneducated, inexperienced non-professional, good luck with that.